Saturday, January 9, 2010

Political Digest January 9, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

Why Obama is bad for America
I’m compiling a list of broken promises, bad decisions, bad positions and bad appointments. Please send me your suggestions for inclusion. No racial or other personal attacks, please, or unverified rumors.

Health-care reform bill's proposed tax on high-cost plans raises questions
Excerpt: Health analysts recently questioned the assumption that the tax would target only the most lavish insurance packages, nicknamed "Cadillac plans." The analysts, writing in the journal Health Affairs, found that some less-generous plans could be taxed because they are costly for other reasons. The location of an employer and the type of industry, for example, have as much to do with the cost of plans as the generosity of the benefits and the kind of plan. Smaller businesses, especially those with a preponderance of older workers, tend to have higher premiums, as do certain industries, including the health-care sector. The Senate bill would phase in the tax more slowly in some higher-cost states and exempt a few industries that tend to have expensive plans, such as mining. But opponents say it is impossible to find a workable way of targeting the tax so it would spare people whose plans are not particularly generous. "It's a very blunt instrument," said former labor secretary Robert Reich. "It makes far more sense on policy and political grounds to tax the top 1 percent rather than sweep in so many people that are paying more for health care, not because they are getting more health care but because they're older or working for small businesses." Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) notes that Obama pledged not to raise taxes on anyone earning under $250,000 and that he attacked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on the campaign trail in 2008 over his plan to do away with the tax-free treatment of employer-provided benefits. Pro-Republican groups are already turning the tables by running ads accusing Democrats of wanting to tax benefits.

Medicare and the Mayo Clinic
Excerpt: PRESIDENT OBAMA is a great admirer of the Mayo Clinic. Time and again he has extolled it as an outstanding model of health-care excellence and efficiency. "Look at what the Mayo Clinic is able to do," the president proclaimed at a rally in September. "It's got the best quality and the lowest cost of just about any system in the country. . . . We want to help the whole country learn from what Mayo is doing." A few months earlier, in a letter to Senator Max Baucus of Montana and the late Senator Ted Kennedy, the president had singled out the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic for praise. They "offer the highest quality care at costs well below the national norm," he wrote. "We need to learn from their successes and replicate those best practices across our country." On the White House web site, you can find more than a dozen other instances of Obama's esteem. So perhaps the president will give some thought to the Mayo Clinic's recent decision to stop accepting Medicare payments at its primary care facility in Glendale, Ariz. More than 3,000 patients will have to start paying cash if they wish to continue being seen by doctors at the clinic; those unable or unwilling to do so must look for new physicians. For now, Mayo is limiting the change in policy to its Glendale facility. But it may be just a matter of time before it drops Medicare at its other facilities in Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota as well. Why would an institution renowned for providing health care of "the best quality and the lowest cost" choose to sever its ties with the government's flagship single-payer insurance program? Because the relationship is one it can't afford. Last year, the Mayo Clinic lost $840 million on its Medicare patients.

Married Couples Pay More Than Unmarried Under Health Bill
Never mind Gays getting married. If we want to defend marriage, have to stop the politicians from penalizing it! Excerpt: Some married couples would pay thousands of dollars more for the same health insurance coverage as unmarried people living together, under the health insurance overhaul plan pending in Congress. The built-in "marriage penalty" in both House and Senate healthcare bills has received scant attention. But for scores of low-income and middle-income couples, it could mean a hike of $2,000 or more in annual insurance premiums the moment they say "I do." The disparity comes about in part because subsidies for purchasing health insurance under the plan from congressional Democrats are pegged to federal poverty guidelines. That has the effect of limiting subsidies for married couples with a combined income, compared to if the individuals are single. People who get their health insurance through an employer wouldn't be affected. Only people that buy subsidized insurance through new exchanges set up by the legislation stand to be impacted. About 17 million people would receive such subsidies in 2016 under the House plan, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

Bill Clinton to address healthcare at House Democrats retreat
Must be at Hooters. Excerpt: Former President Bill Clinton will address House Democrats at their annual retreat next week on healthcare, an issue closely identified with his presidency. Clinton is likely to give the keynote speech on healthcare on Friday, the retreat’s final day, and may take on a more prominent role in discussing the issue at the retreat than even President Barack Obama, according to House leadership aides involved in the planning. Clinton’s appearance, House aides said, is specifically designed to remind House Democrats of the perils associated with killing healthcare reform — a phenomenon that rocked Clinton’s first term and contributed to Democrats' losing power in both chambers the next year. (Maybe it wasn’t losing healthcare that defeated democrats. Maybe it was pushing healthcare.)

Obama’s C-Span lies
"We will have a public, uh, process for forming this plan. It'll be televised on C-SPAN.... It will be transparent and accountable to the American people." --Barack Obama, November 2007
"That's what I will do in bringing all parties together, not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are, because part of what we have to do is enlist the American people in this process." --Barack Obama, January 2008
"[T]hese negotiations will be on C-SPAN..." --Barack Obama, January 2008
"We're gonna do all these negotiations on C-SPAN so the American people will be able to watch these negotiations." --Barack Obama, March 2008
"All this will be done on C-SPAN in front of the public." --Barack Obama, April 2008
"I want the negotiations to be taking place on C-SPAN." --Barack Obama, May 2008
"[W]e'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who is, who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies." --Barack Obama, August 2008
"We will work on this process publicly. It'll be on C-SPAN. It will be streaming over the Net." --Barack Obama, November 2008. The Patriot Post

Second Amendment: 2009 Gun Sales
It looks as if a correlation between gun ownership and murder rates exists after all -- but not the one gun-control crusaders claim. According to 2009 data, more guns mean fewer murders. The FBI's preliminary 2009 crime report shows that murders from January to June 2009 fell 10 percent from the same period in 2008. Granted, correlation doesn't always equal causation, but the number of privately owned guns rose in 2009 by about 2 percent. During the first six months of last year, national instant background checks jumped by 24.5 percent over the first six months of 2008. According to one gun store owner, the problem, even amid the economic downturn, hasn't been keeping customers; it's been keeping up with customers. "For most of the year we couldn't even find guns to sell," says Kevin Miller of K&D Gunsmithing in San Bernardino, California. "The manufacturers don't have guns. They say sales are so high in the United States they can't keep up." Indeed, gun manufacturer Sturm, Ruger, & Co. reported that first quarter 2009 production skyrocketed by 69.3 percent over first quarter 2008 levels. The most popular guns purchased were those most commonly used for self defense. Hmm, gun ownership translating into personal safety and lower crime rates. Maybe our Founding Fathers were onto something after all. The Patriot Post

GOP casting wide net in effort to recruit 2010 hopefuls
Excerpt: The Republican road to redemption may well begin in Frog Jump, Tenn., where a gospel-singing farmer with no political experience is running for Congress.
Without any staff, Stephen Fincher raised $300,000 in September and delighted GOP leaders, who believed they had finally found a credible challenger to Rep. John Tanner (D). Then things took an even better turn for the party: On Dec. 1, Tanner announced he would not run for reelection in 2010. Two weeks later, Fincher, 37, visited Washington for the first time in his life, to get together with GOP leaders eager to meet the newcomer who helped push a 21-year incumbent into retirement. For a beleaguered Republican Party, Fincher's candidacy is part of a recruiting renaissance following back-to-back elections during which the national political environment was tilted badly against it. In races for the House and Senate, Republicans have found credible candidates that range from intriguing first-timers such as Fincher to ambitious politicians such as California state Assemblyman Van Tran, who took a pass on previous entreaties to challenge Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) but is ready now.

Tumultuous Tuesday: Winners and Losers
Excerpt: Forty-eight hours removed from one of the wildest days in politics in recent memory -- we have taken to calling it "Tumultuous Tuesday", it seemed like the right time to look back on what transpired and pick a few winners and losers from the day.

45% would replace Congress with names drawn randomly from the telephone book
Hard to believe. Only 45%? Excerpt: “More voters have greater confidence in the telephone book these days than in the current Congress, and most think their national legislators are paid too much to boot,” Rasmussen reported. 45% of voters would rather pick names randomly from the phone book to run Congress than to have Nancy Pelosi, et al, in charge, a Rasmussen Poll found. Only 36% disagree.

Economy loses 85,000 jobs; unemployment stuck at 10 percent
Maybe because the stimulus money went to politically-favored groups or is being help back to dump in 4-6 months before the 2010 election, to aid Democrats? Excerpt: The economy shed 85,000 jobs in December as the nation’s unemployment rate stuck for a second month at 10 percent. The job losses reported in the monthly Labor Department report were higher than expected by many analysts, dimming hopes that the economy was headed for a quicker turnaround after a brutal recession. (but…)

Is The Government Misrepresenting Unemployment By 32%?
Excerpt: What becomes obvious is that a correlation which used to be almost 1.000 has diverged massively, and now the relative outlays surpass what the government highlights are the number of people actually collecting benefits by 32%! This implies two things: either the average unemployment monthly paycheck has surged, which is not the case, or there is some gray unemployment area which is not disclosed by the government, and which accounts for a shadow unemployed insurance economy. Because while the DOL indicates there are about 9.5 million total unemployed, for the correlation to return to its near 1.0 trendline the number of unemployed on benefits has to be 14 million. At least this is what the actual cash outlays by the Treasury suggest: the government spent a record $14.7 billion on Unemployment Insurance Benefits as of December 30, a 24% jump sequentially from the $11.8 billion in November. Yet the DOL has disclosed a mere 1.7% increase in those to whom insurance benefits are paid: from 9.4 million to just under 9.6 million. To put the $14.7 billion number in perspective, in December the Federal Government paid a total of $14 billion ($700 million less) in Federal Salaries! A cynic could be temped to say that effectively the number of people employed by the government is double what is disclosed. A yet bigger cynic could claim that America is now the biggest socialist state in the world. Both cynics would not necessarily be wrong.

Police May Scrap Entrance Exam
Actually, they are going to a one-question exam: “Who sent ya?” It’s the Chicago way. Excerpt: The Chicago Police Department (CDP) is considering scrapping its police entrance exam. Dropping the exam would bolster minority hiring and avert legal battles, according to one source, while others confirm that the exam could be scrapped to open the process to as many people as possible. However, the lack of an exam would make Chicago the lone major city without one, and experts contend that the exam is integral to eliminating unqualified applicants, says NBC Chicago.

Yemen's internal divide complicates U.S. efforts against al-Qaeda, analysts say
Excerpt: A hatred of the government in southern Yemen is complicating U.S.-backed efforts to stem al-Qaeda's ambitions across the region, according to Western and Yemeni officials, analysts and human rights activists. The concerns highlight the extent to which the United States, as it deepens its military engagement here, is teaming up with a government facing internal divisions that in some ways are more complex than those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a speech Thursday, President Obama said the United States has worked closely with its partners, including Yemen, "to inflict major blows" against al-Qaeda. But experts familiar with the group here say it is poised to exploit the country's divide to attract recruits and more sympathy from the south's powerful tribes. "Al-Qaeda dreams of secession," said Najib Ghallab, a political science professor at Sanaa University. "It wants to turn the south into the perfect breeding ground for global terrorism."

Obama: 'The buck stops with me' on attempted terrorist attack
Trying to sound like Truman. Excerpt: "Over the past two weeks, we've been reminded again of the challenge we face in protecting our country against a foe that is bent on our destruction. And while passions and politics can often obscure the hard work before us, let's be clear about what this moment demands," he said. "We are at war," Obama said. "We are at war with al-Qaeda." (Ah, Mister President, doesn’t that make the crotch-bomber a POW, subject to the military and not the courts? Obama looked angry, but was it at the terrorists, at having to take responsibility for something negative, or a political act after being told to “show some passion”?)

The First Step Is Admitting You Have A Problem
It may have taken President Barack Obama two weeks to deliver a speech on the failed Flight 253 bomb attack without blaming President Bush, but he should still be commended for finally owning up for the massive intelligence failure. President Obama told the American people yesterday: “The U.S. government had the information . . . to potentially uncover this plot and disrupt the attack. Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had. … Ultimately, the buck stops with me . . . and when the system fails, it is my responsibility.” But while the President is right to admit the system failed and that it is his fault that it did, he is still clueless about why. The President promised he would direct “our intelligence community immediately begin assigning specific responsibility for investigating all leads on high-priority threats so that these leads are pursued and acted upon aggressively — not just most of the time, but all of the time.” And he added: “In addition to the corrective efforts that I’ve ordered, I’ve directed agency heads to establish internal accountability reviews, and directed my national security staff to monitor their efforts.”

What's good for the Nazi works for a jihadi
Excerpt: We're tougher on geriatric has-beens than young terrorists. President Obama was right when he declared after convening the post mortem on the Detroit debacle that "we have to do better." The simple fact is that $42 billion later, Americans do not feel much safer getting on an airplane than they did eight years ago. Despite the post- Sept. 11 upgrades in security, despite the long lines, the inconveniences of removing shoes and belts and coming soon to an airport near you - full body scans - we are not reassured that the next disaster is not lurking just around the corner. People are concerned we aren't doing enough to fight the enemy and we're still not sure we've fully identified the enemy. The administration and its Republican critics are still arguing whether Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's Ft. Hood massacre constitutes an act of terrorism. That dispute is reflected in a larger debate of whether we are still in a "war against terror" and whether individuals like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should be treated as enemy combatants or read their Miranda Rights as common criminals. But however that debate shakes out, there is an important move, that would cost little but could strike a blow against extremism and make our skies a little safer: The president admitted that the current watch list is inadequate. But America needs to immediately expand its terrorist watch list. Consider this fact: While the United States has a database of 500,000 individuals implicated in criminal activity, only 1,700 of those names are on the terrorist watch list banning entry into the United States. Compare that to the watch list developed by the U.S. Justice Department of suspected Nazi war criminals. Developed in the 1980s, 40,000 individuals were initially listed, but later the list expanded beyond 70,000 when the Office of Special Investigations on Nazi War Crimes (OSI) included the entire roster of the Nazi SS - and all others who belonged to groups that abetted genocide.

Toledo man charged in flight fracas
Someone please send him the Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace memo. Excerpt: The Toledo man who Wednesday yelled racial slurs and caused a Detroit flight from Miami to turn around is being held in a Florida jail today. Mansor Mohammad Asad, 43, has been charged with threats against a public servant, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after the incident aboard Delta Airlines flight 2485, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department. Witnesses told investigators that Asad yelled anti-Semitic references such as, "I'm Palestinian and I want kill all the Jews," in Arabic. The pilot turned around as the plane was taxiing for take-off at 6:35 p.m., according to police.

More ex-detainees wage jihad
Excerpt: As many as one in five former Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainees are suspected of or are confirmed to have engaged in terrorist activity after their release, U.S. officials said, citing the latest government statistics. The 20 percent rate is an increase over the 14 percent of former inmates an April Pentagon report said were thought to have joined terrorist efforts, said the officials, who requested anonymity. (Wait until the President hears this. He’ll spring into action…and release more detainees!)

The Gitmo Obsession
Excerpt: On Wednesday, Nigerian would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was indicted by a Michigan grand jury for attempted murder and sundry other criminal charges. The previous day, the State Department announced that his visa had been revoked. The system worked. Well, it did for Abdulmutallab. What he lost in flying privileges he gained in Miranda rights. He was singing quite freely when seized after trying to bring down Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit. But the Obama administration decided to give him a lawyer and the right to remain silent. We are now forced to purchase information from this attempted terrorist in the coin of leniency. Absurdly, Abdulmutallab is now in control. And this is no ordinary information. He was trained by al-Qaeda in Yemen, and just days after he was lawyered up and shut up, the U.S. was forced to close its embassy in Yemen because of active threats from the same people who had trained and sent Abdulmutallab.

GOP senators write Obama letter objecting to alleged bomber's trial
Excerpt: More than 20 Republican senators wrote a letter to President Barack Obama on Friday objecting to the administration’s decision to try terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in civilian courts. The GOP senators want the 23-year-old Nigerian accused of trying to bomb a Northwest Airlines jet tried in military courts and declared an enemy combatant. By bringing Abdulmutallab before a judge and allowing him to face charges, critics say, the administration is missing an opportunity to interrogate him more thoroughly. The letter was still circulating among Senate offices for signatures Friday. Initial signers included senior Republicans on the Senate Judiciary, Intelligence and Armed Services committees, according to a GOP Senate aide. Critical questions, the senators argue, remain unanswered, such as whether Abdulmutallab obtained money for the operation, and if so, from whom; the identities of all the people who assisted him; and how he trained for the attempted bombing.

When War Is Not Metaphor
Excerpt: He was looking forward to deploying to Afghanistan. I wasn't sure I heard him right, so I asked him to repeat himself. Yes, he was looking forward to deploying to Afghanistan. He had been an ROTC cadet at one of our elite Eastern universities. He was sure that none from his class could be happier than he was. He wanted to be an Army Ranger because it would give his life meaning and purpose. He wasn't sure many of his classmates in other professions would say that. He wanted a part of ensuring the future of his country. With neither sentiment nor arrogance, he talked of taking seriously the defense of country. He regards al-Qaida-trained terrorists as a deep and lethal threat to everything he holds dear. He was very matter of fact, and it was I who waxed sentimental, imagining him listening to Kate Smith sing "God Bless America." She was the lyrical voice of patriotism during World War II and made Irving Berlin's song a new battle hymn of the republic. We don't have a Kate Smith today. Our showbiz celebrities act as if they don't know there's a war on. They're more concerned with acting outrageous than honoring the courageous. They no longer bother to give lip service to the values of God and country, and yet we face enemies as deadly and as determined as any we fought 70 years ago. The enemy today hides in caves, covens and cells but is just as real as the Nazis who set out to rule the world. They wear neither uniform nor identifiable insignia, and sometimes designer suits as camouflage. But their goal is as evil as the goals of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan.

Cardinal says Christian Europe is to blame for Islamisation
Excerpt: "Europe will pay dear for having left its spiritual foundations and that this is the last period that will not continue for decades when it may still have a chance to do something about it," he said. "The Muslims definitely have many reasons to be heading here. They also have a religious one – to bring the spiritual values of faith in God to the pagan environment of Europe, to its atheistic style of life. "Unless the Christians wake up, life may be Islamised and Christianity will not have the strength to imprint its character on the life of people, not to say society."

Pearl Harbor Day erased! Happy Islamic New Year
The Silent Jihad advances. Excerpt: Explosive outrage is being unleashed on a popular supermarket chain after it published a 2010 calendar marking the date of Dec. 7 with the Islamic New Year, while eliminating any mention of Pearl Harbor Day, commemorating the 1941 attack on the U.S. by Japan. Joyce Kaufman, a talk-show host on WFTL Radio in South Florida, made the "date which will live in infamy" the centerpiece of her broadcast today, expressing outrage at Publix Supermarkets for its calendar omission.

It's Freezing: Must Be Global Warming
Excerpt: When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf coast, "warmist" gnomes were thick on the ground, inviting us to conclude that Katrina's deadly force resulted from global warming and that the world was entering an era of fierce storms, fires, and floods -- a green apocalypse. Al Gore mentioned Katrina in "An Inconvenient Truth," asking, "How in God's name could that happen here? There had been warnings that hurricanes would get stronger. There were warnings that this hurricane ... would cause the kind of damage that it ultimately did cause. And one question that we, as a people, need to decide is how we react when we hear warnings from the leading scientists in the world." Those scientists (whether they are "leading" or not is a subjective matter) supplied their own panicky conclusions. A study published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists" concluded that "Global warming caused by humans is largely responsible for heating hurricane-forming regions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, probably increasing the intensity of the storms." The Boston Globe quoted lead scientist Ben Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, "Natural variability doesn't cut it for the observed ocean temperatures. The study suggests we are responsible." Just by the way, the 2009 hurricane season was unusually mild.

WHITTLE: The Biggest Smack Down of The Year
Setting the historical record straight about Truman and the A-bombs.

Human sacrifices 'on the rise in Uganda' as witch doctors admit to rituals
Healthcare reform in Uganda? The beauty of multiculturalism and the all-cultures-are-equally-valid folks? Proving “Death Panels” do exist? Hard to say.

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